Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer, is commonly known for making YouTube videos on popular science and showing others how to make DIY gadgets. He’s usually quite educational and entertaining and puts on a show with each video.
In a recent video, however, Rober shared a different side of his life with his viewers. He invited his son, who has autism, onto his channel. His son has never made a prior appearance on his channel, so many people may have not been aware that Rober even had a son.
At the start of the video, he explains that the decision to exclude his son from his channel was intentional, citing that the Internet can be a challenging place for those who are “different.” However, he and his wife felt that the message they had to share was too important to hold back any longer.
He said, “The reason I’m so protective of him is because he has special needs. He’s on the autistic spectrum and this is the internet. So even as I make this video I’m incredibly terrified but this is something that my wife and I
feel really strongly about.”
Rober went on to describe his son as being kind, joyful, and full of laughter. It’s clear from the video that the boy’s smiles are contagious.
Rober then went on to explain a bit about autism, correcting common misinformation and sharing stories of others with autism. According to Rober, autism is an inability to process sensory overload – not a disability.
“Basically people with autism don’t have a filter in their brain like the rest of us. So if you and I are
having a conversation here in this park, I can ignore everything around me and just focus on your voice. But if I had autism, I would hear the ice cream man ringing, the bell behind me, and the kid crying because he’s not getting any ice cream.
And the car going by and the plane up there as well as the train in the distance, and not to mention all of the different smells and the fact that the tag on my shirt is kind of rubbing on my back. It’s sensory overload and everything comes in all at once and it’s really overwhelming and makes it hard to focus.”
He shared the video as part of a collaboration with Jimmy Kimmel to raise money for theNEXT for Autism non-profit. They’re hoping to gain funds through the “Color the Spectrum” live stream event that’s taking place on April 30th.